For more than 25 years, I have been privileged to report on such a wide-range of issues and events; some joyful, some tragic, but all profoundly meaningful for me both professionally and personally. There are so many images burned into my memory from reporting in San Francisco's Marina district in the days after the Loma Prieta earthquake, to watching John Glenn blast off on-board the space shuttle at Cape Canaveral, to visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland with Bay Area holocaust survivors, and on and on and on. I have seen with my own eyes some of the most moving sights imaginable. I will never forget the eager, sweet faces of the children of the slums of Lima, Peru; so friendly and kind to a stranger from America even though they lived with a level of poverty we really don't understand in this country. I saw first-hand the overwhelming sense of elation and pride from the faithful in Mexico City as Pope John Paul visited for the first time.
One of my professional and personal highlights happened in Washington, a city I know well having spent a great deal of time there as a teenager and young adult. I have been to the White House as a tourist, but never as a reporter. I had that opportunity when I interviewed President Barrack Obama in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, the very room where FDR gave his iconic fireside chats. I was able to ask President Obama several questions in a one-on-one interview and then stand in front of the White House, lit up in the darkness, and report our conversation to the Bay Area. It was a remarkable experience for which I am very grateful.
There are also indelible marks made by the tragedies that I have reported from the scene over the years. Reporting from Littleton, Colorado the day after the Columbine High School massacre was a deeply emotional experience. My photographer, Cathy Cavey, was worried about what we would find there. It was such a heart-breaking place to be in the days following that tragedy but, at the same time, it was a privilege to have students, parents, and teachers trust us enough to tell their stories. We were moved to tears by what we saw and heard and we were so honored and touched when they brought us cookies and thanked us for being there. Incredible! I was the only broadcaster able to remain on the air the night Hurricane Hugo slammed into Charleston, South Carolina and the first one able to get back on the air in the hours after it had passed. It was a terrifying night as the wind roared like a freight train through the two-thousand foot transmitting tower directly above me. I could not imagine that the tower would not collapse right on top of us, but somehow it did not fall. Still, even in fear, the crew and I all stayed calm that night and did our best to inform and to comfort our viewers. I learned more about myself and my job in the two weeks after the storm than I had in the previous two years.
All of these magnificent experiences and opportunities and I could not have imagined any of them when I used to watch Walter Cronkite deliver the news each evening with my family. I thought as a teenager that being a journalist must be such an interesting profession, but never really thought about making it my reality until college. But once I got the bug, that's all it took.
That said, you know what they say about all work and no play! Balance in life is important after all. So, as busy as I am with my career, I do try to make time for other interests, which I have a bit more time to pursue these days now that our two sons are in college.
When I'm not working, you'll find me hanging out with my wife of 25 years, on the golf course with my good buddies, or writing and marketing screenplays with my youngest brother. My other major interest lately is music. I'm having a blast singing classic and original rock-n-roll at various festivals and events around the Bay Area with my band PUSH.
Heard any good music lately? Find me on Facebook and let me know! Or you can send me your ideas on what we should cover next. You can also follow me on Twitter.
Ashley has received several awards from the Radio Television News Directors Association of Northern California (RTNDA) for Best Newscast. In 2008, he was honored with an Emmy Award for outstanding achievement in news reporting. During his news tenure in Charleston, N.C., Ashley also won the prestigious DuPont Columbia Award and the Edward R. Murrow Award.
Dan is very involved in the Bay Area community. Every year, he works through the "Dan Ashley Friends of Camp Concord Golf Tournament" to raise money to send underprivileged youngsters to summer camp at Lake Tahoe. He also serves on the boards of the Bay Area Red Cross, The Commonwealth Club of California, the Bay Area Leadership Foundation, First Tee of Contra Costa County, California Symphony, Contra Costa County Crisis Center, the Darius Jones Foundation, and the San Francisco Music in Schools Program. Dan Ashley joined ABC7 News in 1995. He is a co-anchor for ABC7 News weekdays at 5, 6 & 11 p.m. and ABC7 News at 9 p.m. on Your TV20.
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